Tuesday, May 08, 2007

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous... to the Just Plain Ugly... Part Three

EXAMPLE #3... THE HORRIFICALLY IRONIC AND HYPOCRITICAL.

Guess what irresponsible Defeatocrat made these statements:

"Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

and

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long [our troops] will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”


(Continued from Part 2) Yes, it was the man who stood before a “Mission Accomplished” sign aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, back in ‘03.

All right, he said these things a few years earlier. It was a different war and a different president. Bush made the comments quoted above during the brief campaign by NATO forces to expel Serbian forces from Kosovo and Bosnia, led by President Bill Clinton and Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. Without the loss of a single US life, that ultimately brought about the downfall of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who died last year while being tried for war crimes.

Using diametrically opposite doctrines that avoided every mistake of Vietnam (instead of repeating them all) Clinton-Clark respected and gathered allies, respected military professionals, respected civilian populations, while applying fierce but targeted force that accomplished every objective.

Toppling a brutal dictator,
Bringing peace to an entire region,
Bringing democracy to an entire region,
Increasing our influence in the world and even our popularity in muslim lands,
Without allowing our alliances to suffer...
...or our readiness...
...or our budget...
...or our social cohesion...
...or even losing a single American life...

...while bringing an end to tyranny on the European continent, for the first time in 4,000 years. One of the most significant foreign policy triumphs in all of history.


Indeed, then-candidate George W. Bush was RIGHT to speak of timetables and exit strategies, even for a campaign that accomplished so much, so quickly, at so little cost. (Go over that list of Balkans Campaign accomplishments and compare it to Iraq. Well, one out of ten ain’t...bad?)

A side note - Clinton-Clark applied the same military doctrines to the war plan for Afghanistan, a plan which was already on the shelves, ready to be taken down, when George W. Bush suddenly had to act, days after 9/11. Lacking time to say anything but “Go!” Bush had to unleash a scenario that had been crafted by professionals, in dispatching that quick-effective slash at the Taliban.

One need look no farther in order to explain the difference between stunning competence that we displayed in Afghanistan (at least the first couple of years) and our noxiously vile/incompetent adventure in Iraq, where outrageous graft and meddling by clueless politicians has shoved our military near the breaking point.

(Dems really should use phrases like “meddling in military affairs by clueless, draft-dodging politicians.” It slices through the hypocrisy of a generation of right wing jerks who used exactly that phrase to explain the loss of Vietnam.)

Oh, about that brazen bragging, back in 2003 -- aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln? Let me quote Russ Daggatt, for concise and sharp gutting:

As you may recall, when the "Mission Accomplished" banner later proved to be an embarrassment, Bush tried to blame it on the ship's crew, claiming that the White House had nothing to do with it.

At a news conference on October 28, 2003, Bush said that the sign, "of course, was put up by the members of the USS Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way."

Later, the White House admitted that, in fact, they had the banner made up for the occasion. Typical of Bush to lie, evade responsibility and use those serving in the military as mere props to serve his own political agenda.]


Oh, when the sign was raised, we had lost 139 people in Iraq. On May1, 2007 the figure was 3,351.
“Accomplished.” Oh, yes, these guys - (the same ones who coddled Saddam for twenty years, then slapped his wrist in 1991) - have a right to preach about “judgement” and competence to “command.”

----

And now a self-serving but called-for query to you all.

Was I not the first person you heard raise this issue? That the Bushites are destroying US military readiness, waging all out war against the professional officer corps, and hollowing out our nation’s resiliency in challenging times? (Hint: I’ve been saying it since early 2004.)

Well, even worse has been the plight of the corps of non-commissioned officers... the sergeants etc who keep everything working.

Washington - Thousands more mid level enlisted soldiers are leaving the Army than in each of the past two years, forcing the service to increase its use of pay-to-stay programs and find other ways to keep GIs in the fold.

Four years into the fight in Iraq, the Army continues to be successful in retaining enough soldiers overall – "a miracle" to some observers, because the war has lasted so long, though at cost of increased bonuses and other inducements. But that success masks a growing problem within the ranks: Fewer mid-grade sergeants are opting to stay in the Army as many face yet another deployment to Iraq – and, more important, Army officials say, less time at home.

While a reenlistment shortfall in any Army group is cause for concern, many consider the declining rate among mid-grade sergeants to be a sign of potential bigger reenlistment problems for the Army down the line. In addition, the fact that more mid-level soldiers are leaving could have a long-term impact on the Army's ability to grow future leaders.


Why, oh why, are the dems to stupid to recognize this as an issue? THE issue?

The war being waged by a clan of super-empowered, spoiled brat amateurs, against professionalism of all kinds, at all levels - including the civil service and intelligence community and law enforcement, as well as the much beleaguered United States Officer Corps.

==Continue to Part 4

34 comments:

tacitus2 said...

David
From a previous installment, all credit to the officer willing to speak his mind. It is a credit to anyone whose principles demand candor at the price of possible consequences. He joins Lieberman and Hegel in my esteem.
You have said repeatedly that Clinton and Clark planned the Afghan campaign. Got a source for this? I recently read "Ghost Wars", a very well done treatment of US/Afghan affairs, and it does not quite say this. It seems that US policy during several administrations was, to put it nicely, muddled. During the Clinton years there was minimal enthusiasm for supporting Massoud, and only slowly developing appreciation for the nature of the Talib. Since the key factor in the rapid Afghan campaign post 9/11 was enlisting Massoud's Northern Alliance I am interested in your assertion. It is not enough to say we had a plan on the shelf, heck, we have a plan on the shelf for a campaign everywhere.
Regards
Tacitus2

Don Quijote said...

Rice: ‘Iraqis Need To Know That We Are Not Looking To Leave Iraq’


RICE: So our friends in the neighborhood need to know and the Iraqis need to know that we are not looking to leave Iraq. That’s not why this President went into Iraq and it’s not how –

ROSE: Ever?

RICE: Charlie, we are not going to leave an Iraq that is not capable of defending itself and with a foundation for future reconciliation.

ROSE: Do you believe you’ll have the support of the American people to do that?

RICE: I think that the American people are looking for progress and so are we.


Didn't the fine people serving in the military vote predominantly for Bush? twice? why yes, they did...

Well then tough cookies...

Meanwhile back on the farm,

Kansas Tornado Renews Debate on Guard at War

For nearly two days after the storm, there was an unmistakable emptiness in Greensburg, a lack of heavy machinery and an army of responders. By Sunday afternoon, more than a day and a half after the tornado, only about half of the Guard troops who would ultimately respond were in place.

It was not until Sunday night that significant numbers of military vehicles started to arrive, many streaming in a long caravan from Wichita about 100 miles away.


Didn't the fine people of Kansas vote Bush twice? yes, they did...

Well then tough cookies...

learner said...

The military is beginning to take stock of the terrible errors made in Iraq. As has always been my experience they do not point the fingers at others but critique themselves. Here are links to several papers and a speech on after action efforts. It is interesting to note that the speech opens by saying that Iraq is one of the great military failures in our history and it is stated as a fact not really open to debate.
http://www.west-point.org/publications/cushman/

SpeakerToManagers said...

David,

The potential effect of a serious loss of noncoms is more dire than that. A good part of how the services, especially the Marines and Army, work at the lowlevel could be called "tribal knowledge", not taught in AMs or at the Academy. One of the most important things a fresh-caught lieutenant has to learn is, "trust your sergeant. If what you know disagrees with what he knows, forget what you know," because a lot of the official knowledge is, at best, incorrect, and, at worst, dangerous to the unit and the mission.

And much of that noncom knowledge isn't written down, it's in the collective memories of the senior noncoms. Lose enough of them and you start getting holes in the knowledge base. Even before that point, individual units start losing effectiveness because they don't have enough of the knowledge right there on the spot. It takes a lot of unofficial training and practical experience to turn a sergeant E5 into a noncommissioned officer, and you need them far more desperately than company grade officers.

Woozle said...

DB: Some anti-transparency (anti-accountability, even!) scariness from Harvard:

Escaping the data panopticon: Prof says computers must learn to "forget"

"If whatever we do can be held against us years later, if all our impulsive comments are preserved, they can easily be combined into a composite picture of ourselves," he writes in the paper. "Afraid how our words and actions may be perceived years later and taken out of context, the lack of forgetting may prompt us to speak less freely and openly."

In contrast to omnibus data protection legislation, Mayer-Schönberger proposes a combination of law and software to ensure that most data is "forgotten" by default. A law would decree that "those who create software that collects and stores data build into their code not only the ability to forget with time, but make such forgetting the default." Essentially, this means that all collected data is tagged with a new piece of metadata that defines when the information should expire.

I don't think such legislation would have much real chance of passing at present, but the positioning of this idea as an anti-Big-Brother move, along with a bit of implied nostalgic "let's return to when times were simpler" candy-coating, could well allow it to take root in popular opinion, it seems to me. And I'm sure the Neofeudalists will just love it.

Zechariah said...

Yeesh, one of my fears is that too much is being forgotten. Look at most history books coving people and events from the last 300 years. You'll notice how much of the historians source is letters. They quote them incessantly.

Now, how many of you carefully archive your emails? How many of you have a few accounts that use screennames and pseudonyms. What happens when you do something great and somebody a hundred years from now wants to write a book on you?

Adam said...

Zechariah said...
Yeesh, one of my fears is that too much is being forgotten.


The possibility of us currently being in what the future will view as another 'dark age' has been seriously discussed in computer science circles. There is currently no way to cheaply and reliably archive data indefinitely. It's either live, or it will almost certainly die within a few years.

--
Adam

David Brin said...

I mean, dang. Some time ago a few of our resident left-of-center folk challenged me (here and on DailyKos) to show any examples of “reflex lefty antagonism toward military people.”

I tank DQ for providing that example.

Um, may I reiterate? These people are among the chief VICTIMS of the Bush Administration. You have only to observe how fiercely Bushites are waging war against the Officer Corps, to realize that they should be viewed as our natural allies. And Don illustrates why a dismal reflex antipathy has prevented many dems from doing so, till now.


Woozle, you are right about the “let’s all forget” paper. My how Harvard has fallen into intellectual second-ratism.

Yes, I see the point when it comes to “melancholy elephants syndrome.” Frankly, I think all music-authorship should be “forgotten in any official sense, so that people could joyfully rediscover melodies. But that’s aesthetic. On a practical anti-big-brother bases, the fellow’s argument is idiotic. It only plays into the hands of would be masters who would definitely NOT forget.

The new generation seems to understand. On MySpace the attitude seems to be “I am not deliberately doing evil or harm, therefore I expect people in the future (including my future selves) to have enough maturity and tolerance to forgive the stupid and embarrassing things I am about to do and say here.”

Shrubageddon said...

I support what Smedley Butler said so long ago....but was obviously overlooked and forgotten.

To all the Christians out there...the majority of whom support this oxymoronic War On Terror and the soldiers who prosecute it, I ask you this.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

I know, I have a bad Beatitude.

I ask the U.S. Soldiers to lay down their arms and refuse to murder for the Military Industrial Complex. The blood you shed accretes to its bottom line and its shareholder's pockets. Refuse to be an accomplice to these heinous endeavors.

RandomSequence said...

Regarding Afghanistan: the most important point about that was Iran's crucial role in forging their constitution in alliance with us. Then we turned on our erstwhile allies and declared them part of the "Axis of Evil". Ever since, things have gone downhill in Afghanistan and Iran.

Lord, I hate incompetent buffoons, the kind of vulgar cynics who make Kissinger look like a messiah of long-term thought.

David Brin said...

A wealth of examples! Thanks Shrubageddon! My point is proved.

Random, in 2003, during the run-up to Iraq, I spoke at the CIA and asked why nobody was even discussing AS AN OPTION the possibility of putting W on a plane to Tehran as a "Nixon to China" end run around the Ayatollahs?

At the time, the Iranian president (Khatami) would have welcomed the visit. It would have devastated all three of our worst enemies over their in a single shot.

RandomSequence said...

David,

I recall seeing on CSPAN the US diplomat who was responsible for putting together the Afghan constitution. Of course, he was a career diplomat who has moved on to new pastures.

He was very clear on how crucial Iran was to putting the project together - I believe it was called the Bonn round. How after everyone else had given up at three in the morning, we with the Iranians stayed up and hammered out the compromise with the Afghanis. And remember, the Iranians threatened an invasion of Afghanistan to push out the Taliban back in '99 I believe.

Few hate Al-Qaeda worse than the Iranians. We're talking bad blood that goes back 3000 years. It should have been trivial to pull off a Nixon-to-China move back in '03.

The US diplomat stated that while still negotiating over further developments in the Afghani arena, he was literally undercut by the "Axis of Evil" speech (which was Condis genius ploy). He heard it from his Iranian counterpart with no forewarning, and was left looking like a fool.

And these buffoons don't even have the excuse that they're not up to the job, so they didn't think of "Nixon to China" - not only did you give it to them, but Condi was a student of Kissinger!

Funny detail about Condi. She was a Sovietologists. One would think she would have an absolute master of Russian, no? Well, I looked up a radio transcript of an interview in Russia she did. All the questions were given to her in Russian, but she responded in English! Ah, what can I say - Yale should be deeply ashamed of itself.

tacitus2 said...

David
You have not gotten around to my mild challenge at the top of the thread. Do you have something other than your opinion to back up the notion that the reasonably successful war in Afghanistan was a Clinton/Clark production dusted off post 9/11? If not, that's ok, we all have opinions.
Personally, I think W. got lucky, after a fashion, and was as surprised as anybody when the various Afghan factions fell all over themselves to sign on. Too bad in another way, a tougher fight in Afghanistan might have avoided the folly (with you there) in Iraq.
Regarding military preparedness, its a funny thing. Combat, to a degree, increases your military's battle capability. Alistar Horne, the finest military writer of our times, referred to the French and German armies just prior to Verdun as "tempered to just the right degree of hardness". They were better than the ardent youths of 1914 ("Lions lead by donkeys", sound familiar?) and far better than the broken forces that limped on until 1918.
Food for thought.
Not that combat is ever a good thing, the personal tragedies are equal whether your son dies in a glorious cause or a foolish one.
Tacitus2

RandomSequence said...

Tacitus2,

The problem is that the tragedy is not the same whether the goal is believed to be foolish or glorious. That's why it's so difficult to back out of stupid wars - no one wants to tell Johnny's mother that he was the last man to die for no good reason.

Look at the relative psychological trauma from our major wars in the century. At least for Americans, when Johnny feels that his sacrifice, and those of his brothers, were for a greater good, he can sleep better at night with the crimes he had to commit (and in all war moral crimes must be committed). Without that, the pain becomes unbearable for many - see WWI, Vietnam, and I predict the Iraqi occupation. We'll be paying the price with a generation of angry, nihilistic people, I'll bet.

David Brin said...

Osama knew there was a plan. That is why he assiassinated Massoud just a day or so before 9/11.

Let there be no mistake. Psychologically, the leading hypothesis for 9/11 would be that Osama wanted to return to his glory days, humbling an evil empire in the mountains of Afgh. He wanted us to follow him there, were no invader since Alexander had done anything but howl in pain.

But we did NOT howl. Special forces went swiftly to pre-arranged drops to meet pre-arranged contacts and set in motion coordinated attacks within a week or two. You cannot do that without extensive logistical preparation and contingency planning. NONE of which the Bushites had time to do then...

...or have shown the patience or intelligence to do since.

The irony? Had Bush stopped the fighting there, we would have seemed woering and impressive and nigh invincible. We did NOT howl in pain, but swept through a territory that had made the Soviets howl. And were indeed greeted as liberators. Had we followed that with a Nixon-to-Tehran, we would have seemed almost godlike, Bush would have been re-elected and would still be in office tod....

TwinBeam said...

I think the extreme heat of transparency ideology has fried some brains here.

Sure, you want to keep around some long term historical records. And it'd be nice to keep most all information around for a year or two, if you've got the storage. Perhaps there should be a regulation that any secret information must be kept around at least as long after it is declassified, as it was kept classified.

But if you're appalled at the idea of making systems explicitly "forget" on a carefully thought-out schedule, the alternatives are to continue allowing data to be thrown away in an unplanned (sometimes malicious) manner, or try to keep EVERYTHING, FOREVER - in which case you'll quickly end up not being able to find anything, and never really using it anyhow. To what end or benefit?

And really, what's wrong with a bit of forgetfulness, after a decent interval, for the trivialities of human action and error? Should we care if a politician once said one thing 20 years ago, and says a different thing today? Is no one allowed to change their mind? If someone was a bigot back in 1987, should we hold it against them today, if to all appearances they've reformed?

TwinBeam said...

Regarding an exit strategy - here's a "win-win" approach:

Bush should quickly pull all US/allied troops out of Baghdad. Turn over all responsibility there to the Iraqi government, for better or worse. The US would focus on keeping trouble makers from getting into Baghdad, and otherwise engage in business as usual in the rest of Iraq.

Suppose it works - suppose the Iraqi government manages to mostly keep the Shi'ites and Sunni's apart, and insurgents - seeing the US starting to pull out - calm down and give it a chance?

Bush gets to claim victory and say "I told you it'd work". Lives - Iraqi and US - are saved. And we can move on to the next stage of turning the country over to the Iraqis. (If Bush getting to look good ruins this otherwise wonderful scenario for you - well, you've got problems.)

Suppose it fails miserably - chaos and ethnic cleansing reign in Baghdad, the Iraqi government cowers in fortified centers, and there's no sign things will get better.

Bush still gets to say "I told you so". But for the rest of us, it makes concrete - on a smaller scale - what'll happen in Iraq when we pull out. Isn't it more honest to face that, and having faced it, STILL advocate pulling out?

And if the Iraqi government - focusing all it's power, and shielded from most outside troublemakers - can't handle Baghdad, I suspect most Americans will agree that Iraq is a lost cause. Maybe even some Republican Congressmen would see it, breaking Bush's veto.

Woozle said...

TwinBeam: The Harvard proposal was not in favor of allowing data to be disposed of in an orderly manner (or, perhaps, even setting recommended guidelines for keeping data of various sorts); it was a proposal towards enforcing the automatic disposal of data by default.

This is like where you are forbidden from skipping past the FBI warning on your DVD because the MPAA won't allow a DVD player to be manufactured that does so -- only on a much larger scale.

At present, nobody is prevented from deleting data when they see fit; if, on the other hand, you've got the disk capacity to store every email you ever sent or received, or complete archives of your household webcams, or live 24/7 recordings of everything that goes on in your household, then it's on you to be able to find anything useful in all that.

I could see the virtue of setting standards for retention of various kinds of data, especially customer data kept by businesses or government (how long can I wait before downloading the pathetically undersized 1-bit/pixel images of my returned checks? Who knows.)

I'm hesitant to allow (although it's not an unreasonable idea at first glance) that software in general should be required to incorporate those standards, even if such enforcement is turned off by default -- except perhaps for certain types of software used to deliver particular kinds of service, e.g. online banking (and then you're more regulating the service; the software gets modified in implementing the service requirements).

But I think it's a really bad idea to have what amounts to a reduction of functionality (and a non-intuitive one, at that) turned on by default.

This seems so blindingly obvious to me, in fact, that I think I must be misunderstanding your point. (So, now that I've misunderstood it, maybe you can set me straight about what you actually meant.)

As for your last paragraph -- yes, people should be allowed to change their minds. But what's the harm in knowing what they thought 20 years ago? Especially if people all around them were saying "no, you're wrong, it's like this...".

Or if, say, a particular person campaigns for office on the basis of a particular position, and then later does a complete 180 from that original position and starts attacking his opponents as being disloyal for using exactly the same reasoning he once used -- well, who's to define whether those statements of seven years ago are "historical" enough to have overridden the (say) 6-year automatic expiration date on presidential campaign speeches?

Yes, I see this idea as a really, truly serious threat to personal freedom, if it ever goes anywhere. Hopefully it won't.

Stefan Jones said...

Awwww, what do these guys know? They're retired!

Retired Generals Challenge GOP in Ads

'CONCORD, N.H. - Three retired generals challenged a dozen members of Congress in a new ad campaign Wednesday, saying the politicians can't expect to win re-election if they support President Bush's policies in Iraq.

"I am outraged, as are the majority of Americans. I'm a lifelong Republican, but it's past time for change," retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste told reporters.

"Our strategy in Iraq today is more of the same, a slow grind to nowhere which totally ignores the reality of Iraq and the lessons of history," Batiste said. "Our president ignores sound military advice and surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates."

Batiste and Paul Eaton, also a retired major general, are featured in the ads by VoteVets.org. They challenge the president's argument that he listens to his commanders on the ground in Iraq and say the president's Iraq policies endanger U.S. security.

"The fact is, the president has never listened to the soldiers on the ground effectively," said retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004. "This administration is not listening to the troops and is not supporting them."'

More . . .

Tony Fisk said...

Off topic, here's an interesting article in Washington Post that corroborates David's recent 'Invite Them Home' article. It certainly suggests that the 'no right wing nerd' attitude is still present.

Is There Disdain For Evangelicals In the Classroom?

TwinBeam said...

Woozle:

You're over-reacting to a proposal that has near zero chance of actually being implemented.

The proposal is useful as a counter-balance to proposals that are far more likely to be implemented, requiring longer and longer data retention.

There's a difference between data you deliberately record - and probably don't want to evaporate - and data that is automatically recorded about you, without you being aware of it.

It's the latter sort where I see the proposal being of interest.

Hawker Hurricane said...

As a former mid grade non-com, I can say that there IS a problem. What little institutional memory that the services have resides in the E-6 to E-8 ranks. It takes time to give the man the experience (NOT training) to know when and where to apply 'proper training techniques' and when to use the ones not in the book. And more importantly, the training of junior officers takes a proper touch... knowing when to say "That Is A Bad Idea Sir", when to go over his head and when to let the officer fail so he'll listen to you next time.

My guesstimate is that it takes 8 years of service to make a sailor a proper Petty Officer. He'll have the knowledge sooner... but the experience takes time. And while there are various tricks you can use to keep a man past the four years he thought he signed up for, it's impossible to keep him past eight against his will.

H.H.
SM1(SW), USN (ret)

RandomSequence said...

David,

What's made every Afghani conquerer howl was not the conquest itself - it's been the occupation. The Soviets took Afghanistan immediately. They had Kabul and full military dominance over the countryside. It's just that when you try to keep it, the Pashtuns et. al. slowly start to take it back. They are masters of insurgency - they've been doing it for centuries. Death by a thousand cuts.

Anyone with half a brain realizes that conquest is easy - occupation is hard. For a centralized society, you have to kill the leadership. For a decentralized society, you have to kill all the men of fighting age.

Kelsey Gower said...

Now this is cool.

www.eol.org

occam's comic said...

OK this is completely off topic.

Plasma Cosmology -no missing mass? no dark matter? no dark energy? no big bang????

I am not saying these guys are right, but if you have ~ 1 hour the video shows what a paradigm shift would look like in cosmology.

Sience or Science Fiction

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TCO said...

I am not in favor of the current occupation of Iraq (in contrast to BOTH critics and the President, I don't see it as a "war" to be won or lost).

That said, I served with Clarke (a little) when he was EUCOM. Afghanistan invasion war plans were part of CENTCOM, not EUCOM. In addition, I wonder, how you know so much to the effect that the war plan was based on an off the shelf. We've done responsive invasions before (Grenada was literally planned on a weekend on a carrier steaming to the location). I've done lots of war planning and it can be months and months, can be hours. And it is not a rule of mathematics that a 3-week planning session will use an off the shelf plan. For instance, if there are assumptions in the existing plan (route through Pakistan for instance) that are changed, the plan will be changed. In any case, pre-worked plans are useful as source materials. But it IS NOT a simple affair of just following some pre-worked plan.

Also the war plan for Iraq (the actual war) worked beautifully, even with time-now innovation for an airborne drop and Kurd-centric northern front when the Turks wouldn't allow access. And Clarke looked like a fool for over-reacting to a sand storm. and Bagdhad fell in days, when Clarke and many others had said that it would be "Stalingrad"

Doug S. said...

As usual:

The plan for taking out Saddam's government did work beautifully. The plan to ensure that there was something left when Saddam's government was taken out, well, didn't.

David Brin said...

Doug S, I must differ with you on this. You are being much to kind in conceding a point to TCO. One that the right leans heavily on. And one that simply is untrue.

Sorry, TCO, but I am going to have to get a little rough here. Got a thick skin? Okay, here goes.

Simply unbelievable.

That a person with your experience (which I would normally honor with respectful nods) should say so many things about the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns that are blatantly wrongheaded. So much so that an (admitted) armchair-general amateur like me can see them.

1) You are quite right that planning for this region was CENTCOM's job. I said "Clinton-Clarke" in the generic sense that he was one of BC's closest advisors and part of the military brain trust of experienced officers who helped him to assign overall policies for war plans.

2) So? Fact is, the DOCTRINES that were used in the Balkans and in Afgh were utterly the same! Both campaigns reflected military procedures and philosophies that were effectively identical... leading to identical swift victories at nearly negligible cost of American lives, materiel, readiness or prestige.

In contrast to Iraq War doctrines that utterly squandered all of the above.

Diametrically opposite, Rumsfeldian notions that over-ruled professional officers in a roughshod manner, spurned local expertise, local allies, and relentlessly micromanaged from the top. BOTH during the initial blitz to Baghdad AND in the long aftermath.

3) I have read accounts from special forces guys who served in the Afgh invasion. They made it quite clear that they were dealing with locals who they had visited several times in the last year or two. One of them mourned the assassination of his friend Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, the day before 9/11, leading him to ponder that the Taliban "must've done that because they got wind of" our ongoing preparations.

4) You would actually raise the unbelievable circus of f'kups called “Grenada” as a GOOD example of ad hoc planning? Strange choice.

I'd pick Entebbe as a better (by far) example. And yes, inspired innovation can work, at times. When done by brilliant and well-trained pros. But responsible grownups prefer hard work.

5) But I’ve saved the real howler for last. This unbelievable mythology -- the fantastic urban legend -- that "at least the initial ground invasion of Iraq was competent" is the biggest boner since WMDs.

What a crock. ALL of the senior officers I know, who spoke to me about the invasion, have said that -- among countless other bonehead moves -- we “sent a corps to do an army's job."

Moreover, just look at a map. We attacked through Iraq’s NARROWEST frontier, the one FARTHEST from the objective, along Saddam's most defended path. Why? Because only Kuwait would let us through... out of gratitude to the Bush family.

Some skill at diplomacy. In the Balkans and Afgh, we had allies lined up all around the foe, offering us bases and good routes. Heck, we had airbases in two former Soviet Republics! That’s how influential America was, before these guys brought our prestige down to nil.

Was there an alternative to invading Iraq at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, from the wrong direction, using only US manpower instead of (as in Afgh) relying on locals? We’re told there were no other options. But I was AT THE CIA in 2003, urging consideration of definite alternative. A love offensive aimed at Iran, making them an offer that the Ayatollahs could only refuse at great peril of offending their own people.

I suggested offering the Iranians a chance to take revenge upon the man who had murdered half a million of their sons, plus freedom for their Iraqi- Shiite brethren and an end to sanctions, if only they'd join us along Iraq's WIDEST border passing CLOSEST to Baghdad. Oh, and if they'd help a little with some "local forces". A million of them.

Um, what’s that I hear? Worries about a resulting Iranian-influenced Iraq? Um... WHAT DO YOU THINK WE HAVE NOW? Tell me the ways that the Ayatollahs aren’t the biggest winners from this entire fiasco. Find any. At all.

But back to the original Iraq Invasion, when we went back to finish what Norman Schwarzkopf begged Bush SR for just 24 hours more to accomplish, in 1991. (The “Betrayal of 1991” - one of the worst stains on American honor in 200 years.)

Yes, we sent a corps to do an army's job. Yet it seemed easy, right?

Wrong. It was NOT easy. The US Third Infantry division MADE IT LOOK EASY.

In one of the great, unsung moments of military history, that one division did the work of an entire armored corps. They did not sleep. They barely ate. They took staggering risks. At some points they were - like Patton - attacking in all four directions at once.

And, yes, the 101st was busy, too! So was everybody else in that slim corps, applying guts and training and stamina and professionalism and patriotism with utter determination to make a success of the dumbest war plan most of them had ever seen.

Just as so many of them have tried hard since then, for four grinding years, striving and bleeding in a desperate effort to fix the mess that keeps on messing, as another Vietnam quagmire eats away the heart of US military strength, while clueless, draft-dodging, meddlesome politicians push around dedicated men and women as if they were toy soldiers.

Let’s be honest. The monsters who ordered us into this mess ARE NOT CONSERVATIVES. Conservatives try to conserve. They are skeptical of foreign adventures. Utopian endeavors to “fix” the world. Let alone utopian endeavors that are inefficient, poorly planned, incompetent and fixated on the very least likely spot on the face of the Earth for democracy to take root and flower.

Any ostrich who continues to call these guys “conservatives” should listen to the whirring in Barry Goldwater’s grave. Or, better yet, have I got some swampland to sell you.

sakthi said...

I hate Bush and his attitude towards other developing countries..He's not worth be a president of USA...
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Doug S. said...

So... it was a bad plan but it worked anyway, because the guys on the ground were Just That Good?

David Brin said...

Precisely.

Let's get this straight. I do not officially subscribe to the "Manchurian" explanation of this administration - (that a combination of blackmail and pure evil has a half dozen genuine traitors sending our forces over there with the deliberate intent of detroying them.) Though, as a completist and contrarian, it is my duty to keep raising one point...

...that it is the only explanation fully consistent with all administration policies and actions and effects upon the nation.

What IS clear - to anyone with two grains of common sense, is that the 9/11 attacks were not simply intended to "hurt America" or to grab a little attention for Al Qaeda. The assassination of Massoud THE DAY BEFORE shows that Osama knew precisely what we would do. Our war plans had leaked. And he WANTED them put into effect.

He wanted us to come to Afghanistan, so he could repeat one of the mightiest acts in all of history, humbling a mighty empire and knocking the props out from under it, so it could come crashing down!

He did that to the USSR (with plenty of help from the US, who coddled and supported him and personally praised and empowered him, all through the Reagan-Bush era. As they did Saddam.) Psychologically, it is simply a no brainer that he and Mullah Omar wanted to do it again.

Only... we surprised him! Our men, doctrines, technology, savvy and relations with allies all combined to make our Afgh intervention a genuine marvel of towering competence. (Hence, clearly, no correlation with Bushite planning or supervision. Bush had only time to say "Go!")

The fall of Kabul was the highest point of Pax Americana. Our high water mark as a nation, till these monsters started tearing the nation down. And it was won by the officers and noncoms who had help from genuine professionals in the intelligence and diplomatic corps.

Corps that this administration has waged relentless war against. See today's paper about the Army desperately offering huge bonuses to persuade young Captains to stay. (Unseen, below the news, a very likely phenomenon... that FUNDAMENTALIST officers are staying in and getting promotions... but that is just a paranoid bet.)

I am rambling. But yes, Competence prevailed in AFgh... and though it has been hampered and undermined at every turn in Iraq, STILL the pros are doing incredible work.

They won the invasion, despite having been set up by Rummy to fail. And today, sheer brilliance and courage and dveotion is keeping them alive, when they were set up to die.

TwinBeam said...

Yawn...Oh, excuse me - are we STILL re-hashing what was wrong about invading and how badly it was done?

Is no one interested in examining how we should get out? Or does everyone just think it's as simple as packing up the trucks, rolling back to Kuwait, and getting on the ships? Maybe pushing a few helicopters into the Persian Gulf?

We've repeatedly heard how Bush Co had no idea what would happen and what to do, after military victory.

So - what will happen, and what will we do then? Sure, it'll be fair to blame any and all chaos on Bush for invading in the first place. But that just lets us keep basking in the warm glow of smug superiority - doesn't do jack for the tens or likely hundreds of thousands that'll likely die in Iraq.

I suppose we can simply shrug and say "not our problem". Of course, that's not how the world will see it, if the civil war spreads to a regional war that ends up cutting off a lot of the world's oil supply.

So - seriously - are people just not interested in thinking ahead a bit? If so, how does that make you different from Bush?

sugar said...

Hi David,

Regarding the Pardon Tsunami, It seems I remember a Clinton Pardon Tsunami, Mark Rich, a felon hiding out in Geneva get his wife to donate millions to Clinton proxies, an L.A. Clinton donor gets his drug cartel son pardoned, etc. After the Pardon Tsunami why don't you compare the two tsumami(s) and tell us which you find most egregious. Just read Sundiver and it wowed me!